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Yacht Racing - The Team Race

( Originally Published 1911 )

YACHT racing today is divided mainly into three kinds of races the Match Race, Team Race, and Fleet Race. The Fleet Race is where each boat is racing for herself, this being the most common kind, but for scientific calculating and sport the Team Race leads, and if the Match Race be close, it should have second position in importance.

I will take the Team Race first. This race consists of from two boats on a side upwards to any number, matched against each other, the scoring being done usually by the percentage table, or by allowing a certain sum for a first, second, third, and fourth place, and so on. I think the table preferable. Take, for instance, six boats, three on a Team. First place would be worth 100, second 83.3, third 66.7, fourth 50, fifth 33.3, sixth 16.7.

There are these various combinations of positions that will win. First place and second will win even if the third boat does not finish and gets zero. First, third, and sixth places will win over second, fourth, and fifth, and so on ; the combinations of the various positions at the finish making the race doubly interesting as the leaders can help their Team mates by various maneuvers, blanketing, etc.

I will give two or three actual instances where maneuver and skill helped to win. In a series of races that took place three years ago, with three boats on a side, there happened to be one centerboarder on one of the teams (call it team "A," and call the other team "B ") that was greatly superior to her team mates and also to the boats comprising team "B," in a good breeze. The race was a triangle twice around, distance 12 knots. At the end of the first round she was well ahead of the fleet, with the other team in second, third, and fourth positions, giving them, if they could hold these positions, the race on percentage. After rounding the home mark, instead of starting and sailing as fast as possible to the weather mark on the second round, she doubled on her course and sailed back to meet the first boat in the other fleet (team "B"). When she reached the leader of team "B " she tacked to windward of her and completely spoiled her wind, slowing her up tremendously. Meanwhile the other boats in team "B" caught up with the leaders and became entangled with each other and the leader in team "A." While this was going on, team "A" boats in the rear picked up to the leaders and the entire fleet went around the mark in a bunch. Then the center-boarder, first mentioned in team "A," covered the leader in team "B," going to windward, staying close aboard her, and spoiling the "B" boat completely. Mean-while the other team "A" boats had gone into first and fourth positions. Seeing this, the centerboarder left the old leader of team "B" and started to catch and cover the new leader of team "B," then sailing second. This she accomplished, and the boats in team "A" rounded in first, second, and sixth positions, holding these positions to the finish, and thus scoring a win.

Another very interesting incident which took place during another series of races between different clubs was when on the run home, before the wind with spinnakers set (calling the boats teams "A" and "B," and the Boats X, Y, and Z in team "A," and 1, 2, and 3 in team "B") team "A" was in first, third, and sixth positions; team "B" in second, fourth, and fifth places, great distances separating each boat. Boat X, the leader of the fleet and in team "A," finished. Boat 1, in second place in the fleet and leading team "B," on seeing Boat X finish, took in her spinnaker a mile from the line, and waited for Boat Y, which was sailing in third place, being second boat in team "A." When they came together Boat 1 crossed Boat Y's stern and set her spinnaker, taking all her wind and completely killing her, and at the same time 1 threw a bucket over-board, attached to a long rope, in turn killing her own headway ; thus she held Y and her-self back. No. 2 in team "B" soon picked up and passed the pair, going into second position, then 1 pulled in her bucket and let Y go, only covering her at intervals, so she should not get away again. When close to the line 1 covered Y and passed her to wind-ward, intending to get the jump and shoot by into third place, thereby getting a second, third, and fifth, and so winning the race. It was a nicely thought out scheme, but unfortunately for team "B," Y of team "A" got a heavy sea under her stern, and in a hard puff ran the last 200 feet on the crest of a sea, passing both boats in team "B" and actually finishing second, so giving the race to team "A."

There are various other tricks and combinations, when properly executed, that will change the entire outcome, such as carrying a fast boat of the other team out into the worst water and wind ; blocking her regard-less of what happens to yourself ; working the start so that each one of the other team shall be covered by your team ; tacking at the right time to spoil the other boats ; leaving your position after rounding marks to spoil the leaders of the other team ; sailing to help your team mates by keeping astern, especially if faster than the others, in order to block the leaders of the other team, but above all, have the winning combinations worked out beforehand and written on the deck where you can always find them. Also, get together the night before the race and scheme out your plan of attack, considering all possible combinations.

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